Georgia conflict may have been provoked to aid U.S. presidential candidate -Putin

21:56 | 28/ 08/ 2008

MOSCOW, August 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin prompted an angry reaction from Washington on Thursday after suggesting the Georgia conflict may have been provoked to give an advantage to “one of” the U.S. presidential candidates.

“If my guess is right, then it raises the suspicion that someone in the US deliberately created this conflict in order to worsen the situation and create an advantage… for one of the candidates for the post of president of the United States,” Putin said on CNN.

The White House dismissed the allegation as “patently false.”

“To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate – it sounds not rational,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

The Democratic Party’s candidate in November’s presidential election is Senator Barack Obama, and the Republicans are expected to nominate Senator John McCain at their convention next week.

McCain was widely judged by the U.S. media to have come out of the Georgia conflict looking like an old hand, while Obama is seen as lacking foreign-policy experience. McCain told a campaign crowd in the state of Pennsylvania as fighting raged in Georgia that, “We are all Georgians now.”

The Russian premier also told CNN that Moscow had hoped the United States would step into the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict and stop Georgia attacking South Ossetia.

“We expected the U.S. to intervene in the conflict and stop the aggressive actions of the Georgian leadership,” Putin said, adding that the inability of the U.S. to stop Georgia from attacking South Ossetia had damaged bilateral relations.

Russia officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday, despite Western warnings not to do so, saying the move was needed to protect the regions following Georgia’s August 8 attack on the South Ossetia.

The other seven members of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations have condemned Russia’s decision to recognize the two regions, while calling on Moscow to withdraw its troops from Georgia.

The current standoff, in which ties between NATO and Russia have been frozen, has sparked media speculation that Russia could be ousted from the G8, but the joint statement from the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany and Italy avoided any hint of such a move. British Foreign Minister David Miliband stressed Wednesday that there were no such plans.

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